The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 14. 2013    

April 8, 2013    
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In This Issue
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We feature two perceptive articles on North Korea at the brink of war. With much of the Anglophone media beating the drums of war or piling ridicule on North Korea, Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos look deeply into the reasons for North Korea's nuclear thunder, while Ruediger Frank explains the logic of economic engagement with North Korea NOW. Both begin from the premise that the march toward war is a disaster to be avoided, and both examine the responsibility of all the nations involved, and not just North Korea. David McNeill provides an update on the continuing whaling controversy facing Japan and explores roads out of the impasse.

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Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos, North Korean and US Nuclear Threats:  Discerning Signals from Noise

Peter Hayes is director of Nautilus Institute in San Francisco, Professor of International Relations at RMIT University in Melbourne and an Asia-Pacific Journal Associate. Recent publications include Extended Nuclear Deterrence, Global Abolition, and Korea and The Path Not Taken, The Way Still Open: Denuclearizing The Korean Peninsula And Northeast Asia (with Michael Hamel-Green)


Roger Cavazos is an Associate of the Nautilus Institute and a retired US military intelligence officer.



Recommended Citation: Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos, "North Korean and US Nuclear Threats:  Discerning Signals from Noise," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue No. 14, No. 2, April 8, 2013

Read More. . .


Ruediger Frank, Why now is a good time for economic engagement of North Korea


Little more than a year ago, in December 2011, Kim Jong Un was announced as successor to his late father Kim Jong Il. Initial hopes for a change in North Korea's WMD policy faded away after two missile launches in April and December 2012, and the country's third nuclear test in February 2013. Shortly afterwards, wave after wave of threats has been issued by Pyongyang, including the use of nuclear weapons against the United States. Against this background, does it make sense to even think about economic engagement?


I would argue it does. In fact, the chances to achieve progress might be the best in a decade. This seems counterintuitive, so let me list a few points that have led me to this optimistic outlook.


(1) By now it should have become clear, even to the staunchest proponent of isolating North Korea, that passive or active non-engagement including sanctions has not worked. The North Korean nuclear weapons program develops continuously, and the regime shows no signs of destabilization. To add a disclaimer, the East German example warns that such external assessment of domestic stability can be quite erroneous. But at least so far, the combined leadership of the Kim family, the Korean Worker's Party and the military have survived decades of sanctions to the point that a number of countries find it hard to come up with new measures.  

Ruediger Frank is Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna, Head of Department, and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. His latest books include (ed., with James Hoare, Patrick Köllner and Susan Pares): Korea 2012: Politics, Economy, and Society, Leiden and Boston: Brill 2012, and (ed., with John Swenson-Wright): Korea and East Asia: The Stony Road to Collective Security, Leiden and Boston: Brill 2013


Recommended Citation: Ruediger Frank, "Why now is a good time for economic engagement of North Korea," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue No. 14, No. 2, April 8, 2013


 Read More. . .


David McNeill, Whaling as Diplomacy

In a ritual that has become as predictable as the tides, environmentalists have returned home after trading blows with Japan's whalers in freezing Antarctic waters.  Sea Shepherd, the US-based anti-whaling group, says it has again successfully disrupted the Japanese fleet's bid to harpoon about 1,000 whales, sending it back to port with probably a third of that number.  
The climax of the spat came in February 20 when the Sea Shepherd ship, the Bob Barker collided with the Japanese mother ship, the Nisshin Maru and a supply tanker.  A video clip of the clash quickly went viral worldwide and was used to fuel rival claims by both sides, with Japan's Fisheries Agency calling the tactic "unforgivable" and a threat to the lives of crewmembers.
The annual ritual is costly for Japan. A report released in January says Japan has effectively nationalized the whaling program, funding it to the tune of $400 million since 1988. That figure doesn't include beefed-up security for the fleet, or the liberal use of overseas development aid in a fruitless bid to buy votes and end the decades-long stalemate at the International Whaling Commission.

David McNeill is the Japan correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education and writes for The Independent and Irish Times newspapers. He covered the nuclear disaster for all three publications, has been to Fukushima ten times since 11 March 2011, and has written the book Strong in the Rain (with Lucy Birmingham) about the disasters. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator.
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